There are girls that mainly appeal to dudes, and girls that mainly attract the admiration of girls. My sister and I discuss this often — the difference between “girl-pretty” and “guy-pretty.” Which is actually something brands and marketers have to take seriously.
I read an article today from The Front Row View discussing speculation as to whether or not the Victoria’s Secret Angels are banned from men’s magazines. This arises from the observation that these VS models so rarely appear in GQ, Playboy, etc. A representative from the modeling agency that most of the Angels are signed with stated:
“They try the girls out, and certain girls sell product. They’re women that appeal to other women. And they’re special because they never appear in men’s magazines. Once you start to do that, they become threatening [to potential female customers].”
Firstly, I find that quote both idiotic and brilliant at the same time. Idiotic because that’s just dumb; I feel just as, if not more, threatened by Victoria’s Secret models. They’re not real! People don’t look like that. I mean some do, but most of the VS models admittedly follow crazy workout regimens and diets for weeks to look that way for the day of the big show.
Brilliant because of the acknowledgement that certain women are chosen based on their appeal to other women. The kind of “appeal” that VS models are as opposed to GQ models is the kind that allows Victoria’s Secret to be the multi-million dollar brand that it is. Because when us girls see a GQ model, we’re just like, “OK. Huge boobs, huge ass, typical dude taste, whatever.” But when we see a VS model, in products that WE wear, we think we have to look like that to wear it. We think we will look a little more like that IF we wear it. So we buy it. And we obsess over the models. We want to look like them, we want to be their best friends. Congratulations to the brains behind Victoria’s Secret. They’ve got you where they want you.
Girls come in all shapes and sizes. And I know that’s such a cliché thing to say, and I’m not trying to sound like your mom. But seriously. Some girls really are just as thin as they appear on the high fashion runways. And I’m not hating on those girls, and I always want to emphasize that. Because that’s not what I have a problem with.
My problem lies in one of the two things, and I’m not sure which I can confidently put my finger on: 1.) The fact that marketers and brands try to sell this one particular image to women as what is perfect/beautiful/what we should strive for, or 2.) The fact that we as consumers are the ones the believe it, eat it up, obsess over it…and that marketers merely just tap into in order to sell us sh*t. Then, because that is what sells and what we like, agencies demand it. And models then feel like they need to look a certain way to make it. And then those pressures just lead to unhealthy things.
So duh, these models are not banned from dude publications, it’s just strategic marketing. Because us girls eat this sh*t up, not the boys. And these models are becoming more stick stickly because WE, women, the target consumers, say it’s beautiful. They just give us what we want, this aspirational image of perfection we so desperately strive for. And that’s how they make their millions.
Media influences society, the consumers. Just as we, in turn, influence the media. It’s a vicious cycle. I hate that I, that WE, feel like sh*t about ourselves and hate our own bodies as a result of ourselves. And as a fashion enthusiast and a marketer I am seriously conflicted by it.
(Image via The Front Row)